Business leaders, political leaders, thought leaders; “leadership” is an aspirational word in these United States.
It shouldn’t be.
Sure, many of the qualities people mean by it can be good: decisiveness, confidence, charisma. These are fine things in someone trustworthy who has a clear and reasoned view on the world.
But they’re terrible things to have in a lying, irrational jackass.
(Not that I’m thinking of anyone in particular, mind.)
But even worse is what “leadership” does to other people.
In addition to any positive traits “leadership” implies, the concept is meaningless without followers.
And followers are just the worst.
They don’t choose what to believe or to believe in: their leader chooses for them
They don’t have any reason or thought behind their beliefs: the leader chose for them.
They can’t be convinced by new information or reasoned with: that would be abandoning their leader.
Followers are moral and political zombies; they’ve given over all their choices and their will to their leader.
And without followers, a leader isn’t special anymore.
They’re still confident and charismatic and all that, but they’re not a leader without followers.
To want to be a leader is to want to make other people into followers who, you may have noticed, are the exact opposite of everything “leadership” is supposed to be.
And it takes a special kind of terrible in a person to want to make someone else into the exact opposite of what you think is right for yourself.
This admiration for “leaders” and aspiration to “leadership” needs to stop.
Neither a follow nor a leader be.
(Apologies to Ben Franklin for that one.)